Sussex History - a different view

Home Up

East Preston Manors

West Sussex - Arundel Rape

East Preston and Kingston History
Extract from Early History File, by Richard W Standing
At East Preston library AD2000

Lord of the Manor 1066 to 1800

[Note that the old calendar year ended in March, and so, for instance, Feb. 1725 by the old reckoning is 1726 by modern, and either usage may be found in this book]

The history of lordship may conveniently be separated from the general village history, and indeed even that of the manor itself. For both East Preston and Kingston the lord, as owner, was a person of paramount importance, but he generally played his part from far away through his steward and others.

In feudal hierarchy all property, ultimately, descended from the Crown. Under the crown, came the tenants-in-chief, and below them there was often a final tier in the mesne lords, usually knights. Effectively the mesne lord was the owner of the manor, in that he was the person to whom all rents and services from the village tenants were due.

We tend to imagine that feudal hierarchy is dead, and this is undoubtedly true except in one respect, property, even now, is not privately owed to any greater degree than of old, for it still devolves from the greater lord, and today that is expressed in fairly democratic terms through Parliament

Kingston, since the Norman invasion, had been held by Earl Roger, but then in the 12th century it and Wick were given to the re-founded Benedictine Abbey at Tewkesbury - its church, which survives, has been described as, "the most splendid monastic church remaining in England". The two manors were the only lands in Sussex owned by the monastery, the Abbot holding them from the crown, and not as mesne lords. [1]

For East Preston, the tenant-in-chief was the Earl of Arundel, except for a period of involved descent prior to the 16th century. Mesne lords held the manor by knights service, but this was eventually commuted to a payment of 20d a year. [2].

It is the immediate owners of the manor that were, and are, of greatest local importance. The last Saxon owner of East Preston manor had been the obscure woman Wulfeva, and after her the first Norman mesne lord was Robert, believed to be the sheriff of Arundel. After he died in 1087, a complicated succession of knights included the Milliers family from Norfolk, of Norman descent.

Some time after the decease of Sheriff Robert, East Preston came into the hands of a family whose name attached itself to the manor until the 18th century. Humphrey de Milliers, steward to the earl of Arundel, held the manor by 1165. Later on a descendant William de Milliers also held an estate in West Preston, where in 1233 his widow had land in dower, Wiliam's brother and heir Humphrey, a cleric, dying in 1241. John Maunsel, also a cleric and holding Ferring Prebend to which East Preston parish belonged, then secured the manor from Felice the sister of Humphrey. After passing via a sister to Alard de Fleming of Pulborough, it was eventually claimed by Henry Tregoz the lord of Goring, and it was released to him in 1271 despite claims by the heirs of Felice de Milliers. [2]

Henceforth the manor is described in deeds as East Preston alias Preston Millers, in recognition of the first lords in legal memory. But their significance may have been more tangible, and is with us today.

Parishes were becoming fully established, and related to the areas of manors. The manor and parish of East Preston were identical, and Kingston virtually so. Between 1147 and 1169 Bishop Hylary of Chichester created the Prebend of Ferring, which incorporated Preston and Kingston, and it is to this period that the parish church of East Preston has been dated - which is where the Milliers are involved, it is to be assumed.

The Milliers family would have required both a manor house in which to live, and a church in which to worship, when they were in the village. They alone had the incentive and right to found a church, and to build a manor house. Whilst the church was perforce sited in the old burial ground on the far boundary of the manor and parish, it was more convenient to have the manor house adjoining the village, some distance away. Needless to say an unusual arrangement, since in most places the church will be found in the village, with the manor house close by and often adjoining, for obvious convenience.

Whereas under Wulfeva the fifteen village households - as accounted for in Domesday - had tenancy of the whole land in the manor, they were now smallholders not only paying rent but in addition required to work on the demesne land taken over by the Milliers as their own farm. After the departure of the Milliers, and with absent landlords, a bailiff would have lived at the manor house managing the estate according to what would now be "custom" . However, the manor was often assigned to maintain a widow or son and various of these may have lived at the manor house.

Henry de Tregoz purchasing East Preston from Emma, in 1271, paying 250 marks. A mark at 13s 4d makes the price 166 13s 4d. The family of Tregoz took its name from Troisgots in Normandy, and various branches of the family had lands in this country. Early in the 13th century Henry de Tregoz held lands in Sussex, inclusive of Goring, to which Preston was added in 1271. In 1279 he claimed the assize of bread and ale, and wreck of sea, in his manors of Goring and Preston but the claim to wreck was disallowed.

The family tree is involved, but the next member of interest is Sir Thomas, who had a survey of his manors in Sussex drawn up in 1321 [3]. Preston, was part of the Goring extent held by service of 5 1/2 knights fees from Sir Robert de Monte Alto. Altogether, Tregoz held the manors of Goring, Preston, Dedisham, Walderton, Ham in Angmering, and also Barpham which was then still a village and parish separate from Angmering. A history of this family is thoroughly recorded in SAC 93 by LF Salzman.

Last of the line, John Tregoz, died in 1404, his lands conveyed to Nicholas Carrew, in trust for John's wife Alice [or widow of his nephew]. By 1428 the trust had expired, the widow having died, and Sir Thomas Lewknor inherited the lands as nearest eligible cousin. [4]

Three generations of the Lewknor family owned Preston, until finally Edward of Kingston Buci (Kingston by Sea) who died in 1529, having sold East Preston only four years previously.

For much of the time when it was owned by Tregoz and Lewknor, the manor was assigned to sons and widows. Whether or not any of them lived in the village is an interesting point not resolved. There is one known early tombstone at the old west porch, that is not identified but can only have been a notable person of the parish.

In the 16th century the old order of Norman gentry was beginning to give way before the wealth of a new mercantile class. Robert came of an old Sussex family, acquiring his personal wealth as a citizen and mercer of London. In order to obtain social and political status, ownership of land, and in particular manorial lordship was necessary. His purchase of Preston in February 1525/6, for 500 established him and his successors as knights and gentry for the next two hundred years. [5]

Robert came onto the scene opportunely, for shortly afterwards the Reformation and Dissolution of the Monasteries provided him with a windfall. In 1540 Henry VIII sold to Robert the erstwhile manors of Tewkesbury Abbey in Sussex, Kingston and Wick, together with the lands of Westminster Abbey, including Parham, for 1255 6s 5d. These lands were subsequently held by the family, as tenants-in-chief, for an annual rent to the Exchequer of 6 12s 4d.

At this same time, the related Palmer family of Angmering, purchased the Sion manors of Ecclesden and West Angmering. Later in the 16th century, they built the mansion New Place, and constructed the decoy ponds on lands unkindly appropriated from their villagers of West Angmering.

The purchase of Kingston was also deemed to include the advowson of the parish - the right to appoint the parish priest. And a chapel of unknown antiquity stood in the village for another hundred years until it was, in the phrase repeatedly used, "eaten up by the sea".

When Robert died in 1545, he left a widow and son Thomas aged 24, to enjoy the lordships so recently acquired. Their principal house was still presumably in London, for his IPM (Inquisition Post Mortem) described him as a "citizen and mercer of London". He must surely have stayed in the East Preston on occasion, especially when it was his only manor, but here again this is speculation.

Despite the Reformation, the family remained devout but covert Catholics into the following century. When they settled at Parham in Sussex, they had the company of many other influential gentry of like persuasion. The 13th Earl of Arundel died in the Tower because of the old faith.

Sir THOMAS PALMER 1520 - 1582 
Thomas, son of Robert, began rebuilding Parham in 1577, towards the end of his life. This splendid Elizabethan mansion stands to this day in its park, a monument to the Palmers. At the heart of the house is the Great Hall, with its original carved oak screen below the Steward's Room.

Religious conflict between Sir Thomas and the Bishop of Chichester is fully explored in a history of the period. [6] but fortunately the Elizabethan Settlement took a moderating course. In 1564 Bishop Barlow described Sir Thomas as a "fainte furtherer" of the Protestant religion. Then in 1569 it was found that he had harboured a deprived Marian priest, a Catholic, as his chaplain, and refused to take the communion other than in his own chapel. A Chancery writ of 1571 attempted to force his son, William, to take the sacrament; and the churchwardens of Parham had the audacity, or duty, to present Thomas and over twenty parishioners, for communicating infrequently.

However, the family had the patronage of the Queen and their fortune took a new course. A daughter married her own cousin, Sir Thomas Palmer of Angmering, and the association of the two branches of the family continued through the following generations. But of more significance was the wardship granted by the Queen to Sir Thomas, of Elizabeth Vernai, heir to an estate in Somerset. Not surprisingly she was soon married to William, who thereby effectively acquired this new inheritance.

The Vernai family had lived at Fairfield in Somerset, but William Palmer demolished the old house there, and built a new mansion very similar to Parham. Sir Thomas died in 1582, leaving his "sowle unto the holye and blessed Trinitye" and William his worldly heir.

WILLIAM PALMER 1554 - 1586 
William died only four years after his father, undoubtedly "sick of bodye" as his will proclaims. He left the house at Fairfield unfinished, but also a young son Thomas, who might well have lived there later but for the effects on his fortunes of the old faith.

In his will, William left 5 to the poor, but stressed it was not to "praye for my soule" which would have been too blatantly Catholic. He also wished Queen Elizabeth, "victory over all her enemies" the year of the Armada being at hand.

Young Thomas could not inherit the estates until he came of age, and in the customary way all the manors went automatically into the Crowns hands until that day. In 1587 one third of the estate was leased back to the family at its nominal value, however it may have been undervalued, as was the case in similar circumstances in 1605. Certainly the widow, Elizabeth, must have expected some profit, if only in the form of fines and heriots paid when tenancies changed hands.

The lease listed all of the manors owned, giving a total valuation of 160 7s 6d. East Preston at 20 15s was undoubtedly correct, for that remained its total rent roll for many years; but it may be wondered if the three manors of Kingston, Wick, and Parham, could have been worth only a total of 28 16s. The Old Marsh at Wick was separately valued at 60 10s.

Sir THOMAS PALMER 1574 - 1605 
Their religion did not prevent the family from being patriots and monarchists. Thomas, undoubtedly influenced by the great sea captains of his time, and the destruction of the Armada, applied himself service at sea serving under Hawkins and Drake.

During an expedition to Peurto Rico, to capture bullion ships, both Hawkins and Drake died of dysentery. Thomas survived to take command of a ship the following year, in the defeat of a Spanish fleet and capture of Cadiz. After this exploit Thomas was knighted.

Perhaps because of his roving nature, he had leased Parham to Thomas Byshopp in 1598, and finally sold the manor to him for 4500 in 1601. The uncertain situation in England towards the end of Elizabeth's reign and accession of James, gave him the resolve to emigrate. In 1605 he departed for the continent and then to Spain, with the Earl of Nottingham, intent on providing a home in Valladolid for his family. No sooner did he arrive than he contracted smallpox and died.

His wife had taken temporary lodgings in London with her sons William and Peregrine and, having lost Parham, the future family house therefore had to be Fairfield.

WILLIAM PALMER c1593 - 1665 Only twelve years old at his fathers death, the problem of wardship once more faced the family. The Somerset and Sussex estates were sold back to them for 435 a sum equal to the annual income from the Sussex manors.

William later lived at the house at Black-Friars, London, rather than in Somerset, choosing a life of study during those years of revolution when others were losing their heads. He died unmarried but the estate in Sussex had already passed to his younger brother Pergerine, probably at his marriage in 1659.

PEREGRINE PALMER c1605 - 1684 Peregrine married Anne Stevens of Gloster in 1659. It is evident that Protestant theology had impressed itself on him early in life, the influence of his father being absent. During the Palatinate wars he served as a volunteer, no doubt against the old enemy Spain, for he later became an officer in the Swedish army. Returning to England, as a monarchist he supported Charles I against Scotland, and later against the Roundheads. In the service of the Earl of Essex he obtained a captain's commission; then when civil war impended, he rallied to the king at Nottingham.

Rising to the rank of colonel-of-horse he served at several of the principal battles, from Edgehill, to Marston Moor, and Naseby. There is no evidence that he, or the family, suffered after the defeat of the royalists, although he was imprisoned for a time. The war on the whole was remarkably civilised.

Peregrine died at Fairfield in 1684, assuredly of great age for the time. His will provided bequests for the poor of his manors, including 10 each to Kingston and Preston. Both his will and his marriage settlement of 1659 mention his Sussex cousins, holding leases there from him. Thomas Palmer of Harting and son are particularly referred to. All the estates passed to his son Nathaniel.

It was Pergerine who had drawn-up that invaluable written survey, or terrier, of the Sussex estates in 1671. This provides detailed descriptions of the lands occupied by tenants, both copyhold, leasehold, and various of the freeholds.

In keeping with the period, a life of the country gentleman became the order for Nathaniel, serving in several Parliaments for the Borough of Minehead and Bridgewater, and for the county of Somerset.
Thomas succeeded his father in 1717, and pursued a quiet life of study investigating the antiquities of the county, and his family. Although he married he left no issue, and so his brother became the last of the line. [7]

Peregrine continued the eighteenth century gentleman's life, serving in Parliament. Although he married and lived until 1762, he also had no sons, and the residue of the estates passed to the next of kin, Arthur Acland (owner of Rustington manors). But the Palmer estates in Sussex had already been sold by Thomas, the greater part going to the banker James Colebrooke in 1722, including the manors of Kingston, Wick, and East Preston, although the purchase price is not known. In addition the Barpham (not Burpham) farm was acquired, although it is not mentioned in the same deeds.

Thomas Colebrooke had been the mayor of Arundel in 1659, and James was born in the borough. By the year 1722 James resided at Chilham Castle, Kent, where he owned property. A son, also named James was created baronet and lived to the year 1761.

George, a brother of young James, became notable in Arundel as one of its two members of Parliament. The family is extensively noted in the Tomkin's diaries.

The younger James, who died in 1761, left a daughter named Mary, who came of age in 1771, the day after she married John Aubrey of Bucks, at Arundel. A lengthy marriage settlement, dated March 1771, provided for the sale of the Sussex estates, including the remainder of the manorial property, or farms, in East Preston and Kingston. [8]

Barpham was already in process of sale to John Shelley of Michelgrove, the ancient mansion north of Angmering. He proved to be the last of his dynasty there, and the house and lands passed to Richard Walker of Liverpool, and were then purchased by the Duke of Norfolk in 1828. The Duke had the house demolished, and only scant ruins remain today - the two families had long been in opposition in Arundel and the borough elections to Parliament.

In 1759 excellent estate maps were drawn up by Samuel Wilkinson for James Colebrooke. One map is of the manor of Wick and is now at Littlehampton Museum, while the other is of Kingston and East Preston, and is privately owned. They show the lands as occupied by various tenants and freeholders in the early 18th century, about thirty years previous. [9]

Both East Preston and Kingston now passed through several hands, their paths diverging.

Essentially the manor of East Preston Manor now consisted of several farms held on lease, together with quit rents (and associated perquisites) for a few of the freehold farms. This was sold to John Bagnall in 1771, but shortly afterwards, in 1773, the farms were entirely split up and dispersed in lots. This left only the quit rents, which were acquired by John Shelley as a pale shadow of the old manor of East Preston, and finally in February 1786 his widow sold "All that the manor of East Preston otherwise Preston Millers" to William and George Olliver, together with the more real estate of Kingston. [10]

In Kingston the Olliver clan practically dominated as tenants of the copyhold and leasehold land, while owning the few freeholds. Their 1786 purchase from Shelley gave them ownership and occupation of the whole manor and parish, and in 1788 a deed contained a schedule of fields which indicated how the manor was to be split between the two families, in a layout which persists to this day as East and West Kingston. [11]

Principal References
[1] VCH draft history for Kingston June 1999, refers to several dubious charters of the 12th century including that presumably referred to by WT Pike in 1910. "From Dugdale and other sources we know that Roger de Montgomerie ... gave a grant of the manors of Kyngestone and Wyke ... to his daughter Sibel on her marriage with Robert Fitz Hamon ... on whom William Rufus conferred the Honour of Gloucester. Sibel and her husband gave the two manors to the Abbey of Tewkesbury in 1102. The Charter was confirmed by Henry I in 1107 ..." Sussex in the Twentieth Century 1910
[2] VCH draft East Preston history June 1999. Fines in SRS 7 No 522 John Maunsel settled on Emma de Fleming in 1251: No 759 Emma and Henry de Legh to Henry Tregoz for 250 marks.
[3] 1321 Extent in SRS 60 [Sussex Record Society]
[4] Tregoz family in SAC 93 [Sussex Archaeological Collections]
[5] WSRO Add Mss 31337 [West Sussex Record Office]
[6] R Manning Religion and Society in Elizabethan Sussex
[7] Somerset Record Office Fairfield Mss (Palmer deeds). Also SRS Fines & IPM.
[8] WSRO Add Mss 830
[9] WSRO Add Mss 16943, 46765 [copies of EP and K map]
[10] WSRO Add Mss 52005
[11] WSRO Add Mss 52007

East Preston
Wulfeva before 1066
Robert after 1066
Humphrey de Milliers by 1165
Jordan 1185
William de Milliers son of Humphrey 1190
William his son
Humphrey de Milliers brother of last 1230
John Maunsel 1241
settled on Emma a sister
Emma [above now m to Henry de Legh] 1265
Henry de Tregoz 1271
Tregoz family of Goring
Thomas Lewknor by 1428
Lewknor family of Kingston Buci
Robert Palmer 1526
Thomas Palmer son 1545
William Palmer son 1582
Thomas Palmer son 1586
William Palmer son 1605
Peregrine Palmer brother by 1659
Nathaniel Palmer son 1684
Thomas Palmer son 1717
James Colebrooke 1722
James Colebrooke son 1752
John Bagnall 1771
manor divided in 1773
John Shelley and John Corney nominally owners.
George Olliver owned the Shelley rents 1786

With Wick part of Lyminster
King Edward before 1066
Roger de Montgomery after 1066
Sibel Fitz Hamon daughter
Abbey of Tewkesbury probably 1102
Robert Palmer 1540
with East Preston until 1771
John Bagnall 1771
John Shelley 1773
William and George Olliver 1786

RW Standing

All views expressed are personal to the contributor.
Copyright 2001-2015 Martin B Snow and the contributors All rights reserved.
Last modified: December 21, 2014